It’s February and Chinese New Year is just around the corner, which falls on February 19th this year. To celebrate the festivity, I am going to share a series of popular and super easy Chinese recipes with you all. When it comes to Chinese food in the United States, no restaurant is more iconic than Panda Express, who has over 1650 stores here.
Panda Express is famous for its Chow Mein and I am sharing the copycat recipe with you today. Everyone loves Chow Mein, greasy Chinese noodles tossed with lots of vegetables, stir-fried over very high heat in a wok. To make sure that I do justice to the real deal, I recently went to Panda Express twice, talking to the cook and drilling down the recipe, and I got it down to a T.
The recipe is very simple, you only need a few key ingredients: noodles, onion, cabbage, celery, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and oil. A perfect chow mein should be loaded with lots of wok hei (breath of wok)—the ingredients should be flash cooked over high heat in a wok, so the noodles and vegetables are slightly burned and charred. I am sure you have seen the cook at Panda Express tossing and cooking the noodles behind the counter, all done in a matter of minutes. To get good wok hei, you need lots of oil and a wok (but skillet will do). The chow mein should never be soggy or wet, and no water should be added during the cooking process.
So below is the real Panda Express on the left and my version on the right. The chow mein tastes exactly like Panda Express, the only difference is the noodles used. Panda Express noodles are specially made for them only and not available at the stores. For the closest replacement, use yakisoba.
This is a super easy recipe to make at home and you can get all ingredients from regular stores. Make a big batch of Panda Express Chow Mein—it’s so good, so easy, healthier, cheaper, and you can have as much as you want!
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